BETHESDA, Md. — More than 500 wounded active duty service members and veterans from 17 nations will compete at this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto.
On Wednesday, during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Ivan Sears, co-captain of Team USA, passed the Invictus Games flag to Team Canada co-captain Master Cpl. Natacha Dupuis.
The passing of the flag from Team USA to Team Canada places the responsibility on Toronto to advance the spirit of the Invictus Games, which began in London in 2014.
Prince Harry of Wales created the Invictus Games after visiting the Department of Defense’s 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado.
After serving 10 years in the British Army, which included two tours on the front lines of Afghanistan, Prince Harry, as he is familiarly known, continues to champion for the military and their families.
The Invictus Games, much like the Warrior Games, organizes adaptive sports competitions to raise awareness and support for wounded military, veterans, and their families.
This year’s Invictus Games will be the largest yet and will include 12 adaptive sports like seated volleyball, wheelchair rugby, swimming, archery, and adaptive golf.
“I’ve always been supportive of adaptive sports because I think it’s been a key to my return to duty,” said Canadian Army Maj. Simon Mailloux.
In 2007, Mailloux, an officer with the Royal 22nd Regiment in Quebec City, was on patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
Evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany — the largest military facility in Europe — Mailloux’s left leg was amputated at the knee.
He incorporated adaptive sports during his rehabilitation and within 2 years became the first Canadian amputee to redeploy to a combat zone.
What’s more, Mailloux will co-lead Team Canada and compete in several track and field events at this year’s event.
Similarly, Air Force Capt. Christy Wise and Team USA captain, used adaptive sports after losing her right leg in a boating accident in 2015.
“I didn’t know any other amputees and I didn’t know what they were capable of and then I show up at these games and there are 200 athletes running faster than I could have ever imagined,” Wise said.
Along with her duties as team captain, Wise will compete in swimming, rowing, as well as track and field events.
The Invictus Games will kickoff on September 23rd and last until September 30th.